This is part of Washington Capitals day at PHT…
At February’s trade deadline, Caps GM Brian MacLellan had a very clear outlook on his team’s chances of capturing a Stanley Cup.
“I view it as a two-year window,” MacLellan said at the time. “We’re going for it this year, we’re going for it next year, and then after that we’re evaluating where we’re at.”
Year one, obviously, wasn’t Washington’s year. The Caps again failed to advance past the second round, and are now faced with the pressure of trying to win a championship in the final salvo of their GM’s imposed window.
Which begs the question — did the Caps miss their best shot?
It’s hard to look at the ’15-16 campaign and feel like something wasn’t left on the table. Washington had the most wins (56), the most points (120), the best coach (Barry Trotz), the top goalie (Braden Holtby) and the No. 1 goalscorer (Alex Ovechkin).
It finished second in goals for per game, second in goals against, second in penalty killing and fifth with the power play.
Many saw it as the year the Caps were finally going to break on through. But instead, they ran in to the buzzsaw that was the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And it’s those Penguins that loom large in this conversation. They’re returning nearly all of the Cup-winning team from a year ago, only this time they’ll have a full year of Matt Murray, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust and Connor Sheary (remember, none of those guys played more than 53 games last season).
There are potential roadblocks outside of Pittsburgh, too. Tampa Bay is a big one. Florida could be another. Same with the Islanders and Canadiens, the latter especially if Carey Price returns to form.
And, as mentioned above, there’s always the weight of expectation. While MacLellan was candid with his “two-year window” remarks, they could come back to bite him. It stands to reason Ovechkin and the rest of his teammates will be subjected to the “is there a sense of desperation this season?” narrative, and all the questions that come with it.
So with that said, let’s turn it over to you.